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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  November 30, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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on our broadcast tonight, the time has come. that's the ruling of the that's's top brass who say gays should serve openly now in the u.s. military. man on the run. who and where is the man behind the wikileaks website that's exposing some of america's deepest secrets? health news tonight that many find surprising, especially women. do you need extra calcium an vitamin d or not? and high wire act. despite a preview night meltdown that not even spiderman could save, theatergoers are buying up tickets just to see the most elaborate show ever on broadway. "nightly news" begins now.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. they cannot order the military to change but their words carry great weight and today at the pentagon this nation's top military commanders, military and civilian said the time has come for gay americans to serve openly in their nation's armed forces. they said that the time has come for the policy of "don't ask don't tell" to come to an end. they admitted it will be difficult at first but attitudes are improving and strongly indicated the nation owes it to patriots who want to volunteer to serve. we begin tonight with our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening. for the most part this pentagon report out supports the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" but it won't come easy.
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airport lieutenant, a decorated combat pilot was outed more than two years ago but his case is still pending and he's still on active duty, proof he says, gays can openly serve in the u.s. military. >> i've gotten so many messages that have literally said -- dude, this doesn't matter. i'll go to war with you and i'll fly in combat with you. >> reporter: at the pentagon, defense secretary robert gates said the time has come to repeal "don't ask don't tell." >> this can and should be done without posing a serious risk to military readiness. >> reporter: and a pentagon study released "today" shows a majority of u.s. forces, 70%, thought that serving with gays or lesbians would have a positive or at least, no negative effect on the force. but that opinion changes dramatically when it comes to those forces fighting the wars in iraq or afghanistan. 48% of army combat troops and 58% of combat marines strongly oppose serving with gays and 38% of marines say they'll think about leaving or would leave the military if forced to fight alongside gays.
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but gays made it clear that ultimately, those forces may have no choice. >> if the congress of the united states repeals this law, this is the will of the american people. and you are the american military and we will do this. and will do it right. >> reporter: gates claims that lifting "don't ask don't tell" would not be the wrenching dramatic change that many have feared but says it will take time and should not be implemented until the military is ready. >> there is a low risk from repealing "don't ask don't tell." >> reporter: general colin powell was joint chief's chairman and supported "don't ask don't tell" when it was enacted 17 years ago and today he told nbc news when it comes to repeal times have changed. >> and if that's who our military leaders think is appropriate for our armed forces i'm supportive of it. >> reporter: in seattle, the major looks forward to once more, openly serving in the air force.
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>> soon, i'll be known just as a flight nurse, again, instead of a lesbian flight nurse. >> reporter: in a white house statement tonight, president obama urged the senate to pass the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" and the current lame duck session. but it's not clear democrats have the vote. and prospects get even worse if it gets kicked over to the next congress, brian? >> all right, jim miklaszewski starting us off. thanks. for the first time since the election it changed the balance of power in washington, president obama met today with the new republican leadership and with the democrats who are getting used to the idea of being the minority in the house. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd was there for today and he's with us to tell us how it went. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. that's right. it was nearly a month since voters sent the message of change to washington. and finally, washington's leaders got together in the same room here at the roosevelt room at the white house to sit down and have a nearly two-hour meeting, top of the agenda? how to break the
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bipartisan impasse on dealing with those bush-era tax rates. after the highly anticipated meeting, both sides hailed the session as productive with president obama and republican speaker to-be john boehner almost speaking from the same script. >> the american people want us to focus on their jobs, not ours. >> the american people want us to create jobs and to cut spending. >> we have two parties for a reason. there are real philosophical differences. >> we believe in different things about the appropriate role of federal government. >> reporter: at the top of today's agenda, the so-called bush- era tax cuts. to have a small six-person working group, negotiate on their behalf, a suitable compromise but the white house seemed unwilling to back one democratic idea, raising the middle-class tax threshold from $250,000 to those americans making more than $1 million. >> i think the president has
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restated the case today for a $250,000 threshold. >> reporter: besides the tax rates, the president once again, pushed for senate ratification of s.t.a.r.t., the u.s. russian nuclear arms reduction treaty. >> it's absolutely essential to national security. we need to get it done. >> reporter: the senate's top republican was noncommittal. >> we're wrestling with a lot of other matters that may have some level of importance but aren't in the same category. >> reporter: also discussed the anticipated release of the bipartisan debt commission plan previewed today by its two chairmans. >> the problem is real. the solutions are painful and there are no easy choices. >> america, you have a serious problem. and time is short to address it. >> reporter: one other topic that came up the president brought it up, what to do about expiring unemployment benefits for millions of americans that
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expire tonight, brian. i'm told by some congressional democrats and expect nothing in the next few days but it could be wrapped up into a bigger compromise on those bush tax cuts. >> chuck todd at the white house, thanks for that. there's more fallout tonight from the thousands of pages of leaked u.s. state secrets on the wikileaks website. the state department is now cut off one u.s. military computer network from its database of diplomatic cables. and defense secretary gates called the leaks embarrassing and awkward but ultimately, he predicted the impact would be fairly modest. tonight, the lightning rod behind wikileaks. aman named julian assange is hiding out be at the same time speaks out. our own lisa myers has more on that. >> reporter: julian assange is a man without a home who lives the life of the hunted. changing his appearance, using false names, and encrypted cell phones to avoid detection.
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he often works from what is described as bunkers and today from an undisclosed location, spoke via skype with rex, the managing editor of "time." he took aim at hillary clinton. >> she should resign. she was responsible for ordering u.s. diplomatic to engage espionage. >> as for assange. >> he lives a guerilla existence because of what he does and he moves around a great deal so he's not targeted. >> reporter: interpole issued an arrest warrant for assange with allegations of rape and molestation involving two women in sweden, claims he denies. the 39-year-old australian computer hacker recently told forbes magazine his next big document dump will expose a big u.s. bank. assange was quoted as saying he had documents from bank of america. >> he isn't the kind of hacker nerd you might expect him to be.
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in fact, he's a very forceful character, virging on arrogance. >> reporter: in four years, assange has made wikileaks a global force and for better or worse, exposed what he considers some of the world's darkest secrets. on everything from the wars in iraq and afghanistan, to corruption in kenya. what drives him? >> he sees the release of documents as a kind of transparency which actually bends the world towards justice. he sees himself as a revolutionary. >> however some of his tactics have cost him supporters especially his decision to publish the name of afghans helping the u.s. the u.s. government argues there's nothing noble about assange. a u.s. official describes him as very anti-american and deeply disturbed and dangerous individual. and tonight, even as he claims success, he still is on the run.
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lisa myers, nbc news, washington. we turn now to today's news about health. surprising, especially for women, who have had it hammered into their heads that they need more calcium to keep their bones healthy. a new report from the institute of medicine says that that's not always true. and it says -- much of what especially women have been told about vitamin d is a myth as well. our chief science correspondent robert bazell has more on the new findings. >> reporter: when it comes to bone health, there is no debate. calcium and vitamin d are critical. but today's report holds surprises. in a world where there's calcium in dairy products and it is added to everything from tums to orange juice, many people including older women, don't need calcium supplements. >> many individuals will be able to obtain these recommended dietary allowances from diet. >> reporter: the other big news? vitamin d, we get it from exposure to the sun, certain
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food and from supplements. in recent years, research has suggested vitamin d might lower the risk for all sorts of conditions. including various cancers, heart disease, diabetes and auto immune disorders. because we tend to spend less time in the sun given the worries about skin cancer, many people have been taking large doses of vitamin d supplements. >> we were asked to review the available evidence about the effects of calcium and vitamin d. >> reporter: but the panel found the scientific evidence for the benefits of vitamin d beyond bone health, is very weak. >> the data as a whole were often inconclusive and sometimes contradictory. >> as with calcium, the panel found most people get enough vitamin d from the sun and their diet and don't need supplements. a simple blood test can reveal if someone is vitamin d deficient. a prominent bone specialist worries that those who need supplements will decide not to take them because of this report. >> we've never told people to take extra. we've told people to take
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enough. and if the diet is not providing enough, you need some from supplements to get up to what we consider to be enough. >> reporter: some people like carroll baggerly continue to doubt the experts. she insists megadoses of vitamin d help her in many ways. >> my own personal well being it's critical. >> reporter: and others are confused. >> one person comes up with something and then in a few more months someone comes up with something else. >> i make my own decisions and take what i feel is appropriate. >> reporter: the panel warns that too much calcium or vitamin d can cause problems including kidney stones. so how much of both should you take? the report has lots of specific numbers and you can read it on oub website nightly.msnbc.com. >> i agree with that last woman. robert bazell thanks as always. and one more health-related note.
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the senate passed the biggest overhaul of this nation's food safety system in decades. the bill goes to the house. according to the centers for disease control, one in four americans gets sick hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, more than 5,000 people die every year in the u.s., from eating contaminated food. this bill comes after some massive recalls that we've covered here including last summer's recall of half a billion eggs in a salmonella outbreak. a huge and potent storm system pushing through the southeast has spawned 11 confirmed tornados now. in mississippi, alabama, georgia, outside atlanta, severe thunderstorm that may have been a tornado has damaged half a dozen homes so far. all part of a system stretching all the way from the gulf coast way up to western new england, appears to cover about half the country. this one could bring heavy rain, snow, high winds by tomorrow. the first day of december. when we continue here in just a moment, what colin and
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alma powell told us about the rare good news in an otherwise downward national trend. and the most expensive broadway show ever staged. let's just say they haven't worked all the bugs out quite yet. [ male announcer ] for frequent heartburn relief, nothing beats prevacid®24hr. just one pill helps keep you heartburn free for a full 24 hours. prevent the acid that causes frequent heartburn with prevacid®24hr, all day, all night. nothing works better. another heart attack could be lurking, waiting to strike.
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a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, reported sometimes less than 2 weeks after starting plavix. other rare but serious side effects may occur. there's a rare bit of good us there's a rare bit of good plus to report tonight on the high school dropout rate as part of our ongoing coverage of education nations. the number of high schools in the u.s. that are known in the trade as drop-out factories
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where 40% or more of the students fail to graduate, has been reduced by 13%. and while the number of dropouts is down by only 3%, it's progress and it indicates the nation may have already hit rock bottom, the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people and groups, including the america's promise alliance chaired by colin powell and his wife, alma. they spoke in washington today and later they spoke exclusively with us. the mission is to give every young person in america a high school diploma for openers. >> and that's a big goal. it's a goal that frankly is achievable if we all come together and put all our resources into the challenge. it will take a long time to get us back to where we need to be. but we're off. we're starting and as you heard from today's report, we're on our way to fixing this problem. but let not anyone think that the problem is going to be fixed in a year. it will take years, as it took years to get where we are. >> no. we're hoping in ten year's time we'll have cut the dropout rate in half and maybe with better statistics than that but we're
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aiming to cut it in half. >> general i have to ask you a question that blends politics and education. you saw the results of the midterm elections and we're going to have divided government here. not everyone agrees on the philosophy of the obama administration, secretary duncan, "race to the top," spending what they have the way they spent it. what's the chance that after this progress you're announcing today, politics enters and fights begin over funding and progress gets either delayed or sidelined? >> i'm confident we'll see bipartisan support for this effort. we saw it in the bush administration with the initiatives that he put in place. and we're seeing it with president obama and especially, under the distinguished leadership of secretary duncan. the challenge can we're in a fiscal crisis. some of our school systems are cutting back on teachers and
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funding for facilities. the challenge will be -- how do we spend the limited dollars that will be available to us in the years ahead? >> former secretary of state colin powell and his wife, alma, with us from washington. up next here tonight, an early christmas present. the best one a kid could ask for. ♪ [ male announcer ] at ge capital, we're out there every day with clients like jetblue -- financing their fleet, sharing our expertise, and working with people who are changing the face of business in america. after 25 years in the aviation business, i kind of feel like if you're not having fun at what you do, then you've got the wrong job. my landing was better than yours. no, it wasn't. yes, it was. was not yewat wa what do you think? take one of the big ones out? nah.
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illustrated" on this year's sportsman of the year quote. for not only leading the new orleans saints to the first super bowl title in the franchise's history, but also for helping lead the city of new orleans rebirth after the tragedy of hurricane katrina, quarterback drew brees is the recipient of "sports illustrated"'s 57th sportsman of the year award. very little we can add to that except the new issue of "si" is available on ipads and will be on newsstands. if you love fighting ships you hate to see this kind of thing. the once-great british aircraft carrier "invincible" looking downright vincible and sad for sale on the internet. as you may know, great britain's under enormous budget pressure to raise money, cut the deficit. their government website has "the invincible" up for sale. prince andrew served as a helicopter pilot on the ship in the faulk land's war and it was decommissioned back in '05 and
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it makes for the perfect holiday gift for the aircraft carrier buff in your life. speaking of the military we love to show you these reunions. a little boy in california getting an early gift for the holidays today at school. inside a gift box, the one thing he wanted most, his dad! a u.s. navy reserve commander serving in iraq and has been away from home the last year. for a superhero it was a rough start but don't count him out just yet. desperate for nighttime heartburn relief? for many, nexium helps relieve heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux disease. and for the majority of patients with prescription coverage for nexium, it can cost $30 or less per month. headache, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are possible side effects of nexium. other serious stomach conditions may still exist. ask your doctor if nexium can help relieve your heartburn symptoms. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help.
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[ laughter ] ♪ [ male announcer ] for tim and richard smucker, giving a gift of their delicious jam always made the holidays just a little bit sweeter. we forgot to put our names on them! richard, i think they'll know who it's from. ♪ thank you, boys. you're welcome. you're welcome. [ male announcer ] happy holidays from our family to yours. i love christmas.
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finally tonight, we go to broadway a few blocks from here. the most expensive broadway show ever produced. so far, they've spent $65 million on spiderman and the advanced billing is there's never been anything like it. the bad news? a total complete meltdown this past sunday night before a preview audience. just about everything that could go wrong did. but the show is named for a superhero, after all, and they've gotten back up to live another day and sell a lot of advanced tickets. our report tonight from nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: swinging into the bright lights of broadway is the high-voltage, high musical,
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"spider-man: turn off the dark." after one preview performance, some wonder if they should bother with the lights at all. >> these aren't kinks. these are catastrophes they have to work out. >> reporter: the show started 24 minutes late and ran for than 3 and a half hours long and had top stopped five times. some flying sequences didn't work, stranding actors in midair. >> something went wrong with the wiring so this poor girl was swinging and dangling up there in the spider costume. >> broadway's most expensive show ever is costing a million dollars a week to produce. the stars are bh lined the scenes. julie taymore, the tony award winning director of "the lion king." youtube's bono wrote the lyrics. despite the problem-plagued first preview the show sold more than $1 million in tickets the next day, even in the face of scathing reports. >> i'm totally confident and bono that we don't need to bring
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in a show doctor. >> reporter: the superhero scored in movies and on tv. ♪ spiderman, does whatever a spider can ♪ >> reporter: and two blocks from his own, the co-owner says spiderman is still flying high. >> he's been a comic for 48 years? >> that's correct. >> okay. ever have any technical glitches with this? >> not with the actual paper comics themselves. >> reporter: the broadway version has 41 more previews to turn the page by opening night in january. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. >> and that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. we want to leave you tonight with the tree we keep out back every year at this time. but tonight, there are thousands of people out there standing in the rain, because tonight is the night they light the tree. and you can see it right here on nbc. i'm brian williams and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now at 6:00, as if heading to the dmv wasn't frustrating you enough, tonight, the growing backlog connected to driver's licenses. good evening, everyone, i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm tom cinco visit. just about every californian over the age of 16 has one and for good reason. your state driver's license is the best form of i.d. you've got

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